Complete my Catholic Initiation?
Learn more about the Catholic Faith?
The RCIA Process
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the Church’s way of initiating new members or completing an initiation that has been interrupted. Non-Catholics are also invited to attend and explore more deeply what Catholics believe. (For “children”click here.)
Who is RCIA for?
+ Those who desire Baptism.
+ Baptized non-Catholics who want to learn more about what Catholics believe and who may or may not want to become Catholic.
+ Those who were baptized Catholic but have not received further Catholic training, or sacraments.
Most Catholics are born into Catholic families and gradually come to share in the full sacramental life of the Church. Some, although baptized Catholic, have had their Catholic upbringing interrupted, and decide later to complete their Christian initiation by a process that leads to Confirmation and Eucharist. Others, who have been previously baptized in a non-Catholic Christian church, have become Catholics after making a solemn profession of faith, being confirmed and sharing Eucharist with the Catholic community. And some, never baptized, have been initiated through a process that leads to Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Church’s annual celebration of Easter. The Catholic Church warmly welcomes new members and tries to provide an appropriate spiritual formation according to each person’s needs.
How is the Christian Initiation of Adults Implemented?
Each parish is responsible for the formation of candidates for initiation according to the guidelines established by the body of bishops of the universal Catholic Church. The process is concerned with the total formation of the person into believing with the Church community (doctrinal and faith formation), living with the Church community (pastoral formation), and serving with the Church community (apostolic formation).
What does the RCIA involve and how would I be received into the Catholic Church?
RCIA usually meets weekly, beginning in August. The schedule can vary according to holidays, parish and community calendars. Those who choose to seek full Church membership and are discerned to be ready are presented to the parish community in the fall at a Sunday Mass. This and other Sunday rituals mark the spiritual growth of the candidates as well as express the community’s joy and concern for them.
There are two basic paths depending on whether one is already baptized of not:
1) Those who are unbaptized would begin the process in late summer or fall. About the beginning of Advent, those who have shown they are ready to move forward would be invited to celebrate the Rite of Acceptance. Those who are not yet ready would continue to learn and discern until the Rite of Acceptance the following year. At this Rite, one becomes a “Catechumen.” Those Catechumens who are deemed ready for baptism are invited around the beginning of Lent to celebrate the Rite of Election with the Bishop. They would then be baptized, confirmed and make their first Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil.
2) Baptized Christians who wish to be received into “full communion” with the Catholic Church would, after an appropriate time of preparation, make a profession of the Catholic faith, receive the sacrament of Confirmation and make their first Holy Communion. While this usually takes place at the Easter Vigil, it is sometimes possible for them to go through a shorter process or complete their initiation at a different time of the year set by the parish.
How long does it take to complete the Catholic initiation process?
RCIA is not a course. It is a process of preparing one for a lifetime commitment that comes with full reception into the Catholic Church. Some people may need more time than others to prepare. The usual length of preparation is from one to two years depending on how much formation a person may already have in the Catholic faith.
Could a Marital Situation keep me from becoming Catholic?
In order to become Catholic, one needs to accept, profess and be able to live by the teachings of the Catholic Church. All are welcome to participate in the initial phase of inquiry about Catholic beliefs and practices. However, if one is currently living in a marital situation that is contrary to the teachings of Christ, this would need to be resolved at some point before one could enter the Catholic Church. In some cases, people may need to receive an annulment for a previous marriage and/or have their current union blessed. If you are unsure, please contact either the RCIA director or the pastor for your parish.
Children who have reached the age of reason (7+ years) are no longer baptized as infants. Once they have reached the age of reason they are treated, for purposes of Christian initiation, as adults. Their formation follows the same pattern as adults, with appropriate adaptations for their instruction. They would receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil, just like the adults.
What topics are discussed?
The weekly sessions cover a broad range of topics because our Catholic beliefs encompass the whole fabric of our lives. Topics such as:
+ Who is Jesus Christ?
+ What is life and death’s meaning?
+ How can I know God’s love?
+ How can I understand the Bible?
+ How do I pray?
+ Why do we need the Church?
+ What are sacraments?
+ How can I know I am forgiven?
Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20
Do you feel Jesus knocking at the door of your heart?
All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Is. 55: 1-2
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Jn. 6: 35
What about special circumstances that could make it difficult to come to the sessions (age, illness, handicap…)?
Anyone in danger of death may be immediately baptized (or received into the Church) and, if possible, would also be confirmed and receive First Holy Communion at that time. Appropriate accommodations are made for other less serious situations as well.
Would I be re-baptized?
No. The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Baptism by most Christian denominations, who baptize with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is not a repeatable sacrament since it changes us forever. If you have already been validly baptized, you would not be re-baptized upon becoming Catholic.
What if I’m interested, but hesitant? If I come, am I obligated to continue?
There is no obligation to become Catholic. We respect the conscience and decision of every inquirer. We would, of course, hope you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Catholic beliefs and practices.
How do I sign up?
Just fill out the end panel of this article, tear it off and drop in the collection at Mass or give to the parish office. You may also call our RCIA director, to speak with her directly.
Can I refer someone to RCIA?
Yes and we encourage you to do so! If you give us a name and phone number, we will be happy to invite them!
We invite you to “Come and See”
We want you to know how much God loves you and cares for you. You are more than welcome to come to any of our church services or to inquire about our beliefs. We only ask that when you visit our church, you dress and act with respect for our belief that this is a House of God. We are sorry but we are not able to admit non-Catholics to the reception of Holy Communion.
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We’d also be happy to meet with you personally to answer any questions about the Catholic faith or the process of becoming Catholic.
For more information contact one of our parish offices:
Divine Mercy Parish St. Bernard Parish Office
(859) 261-6172 (859) 261-8506
Father Martin Pitstick:
Or you can print out and fill in this Interest Form to give to us.